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Why did you apply to be a Nonprofit Board Fellow? 

I worked in mental health for ten years before Kellogg, so while I was really excited for business school, I was also sad to let go of some of the more direct social impact work that I did. I discovered Board Fellows as a prospective student and became excited to be a part of it. That excitement deepened when I started to apply to the program in the fall. I loved how warm and passionate Alli and the student leadership team were and I found the application engaging but also comprehensive, which—together with the exclusivity of the Fellows cohort—sent the message that it would be a serious commitment, requiring dedication and attracting like-minded people.

Can you describe your experience?

I had an amazing experience, but I had some unconventional situations arise. Over the summer, my first board made the decision to close  the organization due to financial difficulties. I was interested in observing that process up close, so I stayed on the board as a full voting member during the year it took to close it down. In order to get a more traditional experience, I also joined a new board in the fall. I felt so supported by Alli throughout the whole thing and I felt like I could truly lean in and help but also learn.


Despite the unexpected turbulence early on, the program itself was great. Some people come to school wanting to pivot into social impact. I wanted to move in the other direction. The board program was a perfect blend—it allowed me to stay connected to the social impact work I cared about but also learn a very ‘business’ relevant toolkit that I hadn't experienced before. It was different from other programs at Kellogg, or even an internship where you might have your hand held a bit more. As a board member—even a non-voting one—you’re thrown in and expected to contribute. I really liked that and felt like I could add value while also practicing some of the things I was learning in the classroom. 


What were your biggest takeaways?

The program is designed so well, and the way the class is set up was really helpful: we had access to so many different types of speakers who went through each of the board responsibilities in such a helpful and engaging way. The board meeting simulations we did were especially realistic and one of them was an almost exact mirror of what happened in the run up to my first board closing. That preparation helped me engage thoughtfully.


Two specific examples come to mind that I will take with meOne is, I noticed the executive director at one of my organizations took a lot on themselves and struggled as a result. If I see that as a board member in the future, I would ask myself how best to advocate for us all sharing the work. Another example is that, after seeing the benefit of making space for new people, I would be very strict with myself about honoring term limits and rolling off a board to allow other people to add value.

What surprised you about your experience?

I was surprised at how a board can be both slow and fast. Some things can change quickly, whether that’s because of an urgent deadline or changing interpersonal relationships. On the other hand, there have been times where it feels like we're taking longer than we should to get to a vote.

What advice would you have for prospective or current students who are interested in the program?

Being a Board Fellow is and should be a lot of work. These can be quite hands-on experiences, with everyone on the board expected to get involved. People should absolutely apply if that’s something that excites them.

Golub Capital Board Fellows Program Nonprofit / Learning Bridge Early Education Center

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